A Comparison of Mary Wilkins Freeman's two stories, "The Revolt of Mother" and "Luella Miller"

Essay by zebstripedCollege, UndergraduateA+, May 2004

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In looking for similarities in style and theme in Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's "The Revolt of 'Mother'" and "Luella Miller," the most obvious is that the central characters in each story are strong New England women living during the turn of the century. There is also the recurring theme of the ramifications faced by women who rebelled against their traditional role in a society dominated by men. What is interesting about these themes is not only what they relate about feminism in early America, but also what they reveal about the author's own life. Biographies about Freeman state that she was a diligent and ambitious writer, but also that she didn't marry until she was nearly 50 years of age, connecting her own behavior in many ways to those of her characters.

"Luella Miller" and "Revolt of 'Mother'" both highlight a strong-willed woman, as in Lydia Anderson and Sarah Penn, and a fragile character, Luella Miller and Nanny Penn.

In each story, the strong woman realizes it is their duty to help the more fragile woman. At the end of "Luella Miller," Lydia Anderson is the only person in town who will even help Luella, and does so, even knowing that her own health could be in danger noting "nobody else dared to go there. It was about midnight that I left her for a minute to run home and get some medicine I had been takin', for I begun to feel rather bad." Similarly, Sarah Penn in "Revolt of 'Mother'" defies her husband with the sole intention to housekeep for her soon-to-be married daughter who Sarah claimed "wa'n't ever strong. She's got considerable color, but there wa'n't never any backbone to her. I've always took the heft of everything off her, an' she ain't fit to keep house...